Duterte offers to be first person to try COVID-19 vaccine from Russia

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11) — President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his confidence that a COVID-19 vaccine from Russia would be effective, saying he would be the first to take it on to prove how safe it is.

In a late night address on Monday, the President said, "Maligayang-maligaya ako, kasi ang Russia kaibigan natin ito... Ang ano nila is, magbigay sila ng bakuna, wala naman sila sinasabi na bayaran mo."

[Translation: I am overjoyed because Russia is our friend... They will give us vaccines and did not say anything about payment.]

Duterte said he saw it as help coming from Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said he and Putin would discuss how many vaccines the Philippines would need.

However, Duterte said clinical studies on the vaccine would be needed and offered himself as the first subject.

"Mag-injection muna tayo ng iilan, tapos tignan natin ang resulta... You will be given the vaccine, and reaction ng katawan mo, tatanggapin ba o hindi... There will be volunteers. Ako, pagdating ng bakuna — in public — para walang satsat diyan, in public magpainjection ako. Ako yung mauna maeksprimentuhan," he said.

[Translation: Some people will receive the injections and then we will look at the results... You will be given the vaccine and see whether your body will accept it or not... There will be volunteers. Now, when the vaccine arrives, so there will be no talk, I will volunteer to receive it in public. I will be the first to be experimented on.]

Duterte said he would tell Putin he had great faith in Russia's studies into COVID-19.

"Kung puwede sa akin, pwede sa lahat," he added.

[Translation: If will work on me, it will work on everyone.]

Duterte again said he was hopeful the vaccine would be available by this year so the country could have "a COVID-free December."

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed confidence that a vaccine will be developed by December, saying it was possible that China would be one of the first countries to complete its research.

Duterte also said the country would get priority access to the vaccines because it is "friendly" to the East Asian giant.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the country was ready to spend P20 billion to distribute free COVID-19 vaccines to 20 million people.

"We have a plan. We can execute it as soon as the Department of Health (DOH) chooses which vaccine or vaccines they want. Certainly, by late this year, if it's available, we can already buy it," he said.

He said the vaccine chosen by the DOH will be bought through the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC), which is under the Department of Trade. It will be initially financed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, then paid off by the DOH.

In his State of the Nation Address, Duterte said he asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to let the Philippines be among the first countries to have access to a COVID-19 vaccine once it is developed.

Xi, in a previous conversation with Duterte, already assured that the Philippines will be prioritized once the East Asian giant develops a vaccine for the infectious disease.